For those who miss the outrageous and gritty humour of Shameless, award-winning writer Paul Abbott’s new creation may be just what you need. Channel 4’s police procedural drama No Offence was set in Greater Manchester, featuring several familiar faces: Joanna Scanlan (The Thick of It), Elaine Cassidy (The Paradise), Alexandra Roach (Utopia), Will Mellor (Broadchurch), Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner) and Saira Choudhry (Hollyoaks).
The action didn’t take long to get going; before the opening credits even began, an attempted murder suspect was flattened by a coach when DC Dinah Kowalska (Elaine Cassidy) pursued him on foot. Her unprofessional conduct didn’t go unnoticed, as her formidable boss DI Viv Deering (Joanna Scanlan) saw the damning CCTV footage of Dinah chasing the suspect into the road and fleeing the scene. Dinah compromised the sergeant position she applied for, losing out to her anxious but capable best friend DS Joy Freers (Alexandra Roach). Keen to redeem herself, Dinah noticed a link between some disappearances in the area and tried to persuade Viv that someone was drowning girls with Down’s Syndrome.
When Viv’s team got involved in cracking the mystery, they rescued Cathy Calvert (Charlie May-Clark) from a river before it was too late. Cathy was crucial to the investigation, but couldn’t remember much about her traumatic ordeal. After several dead ends and wasted funding, the risk of the case becoming a national embarrassment was high. Progress was slowly made thanks to the team’s strong hunches, Dinah’s persistence, and the talented therapist, Dr Peep (Kate O’ Flynn), who helped Cathy remember details of the attack. The breakthroughs in the case didn’t always make much sense and were more baffling than enlightening, causing Viv to suspect that someone inside her own team was feeding the perpetrator inside information.
Plenty of hooking storylines were weaved into the drama while Cathy Calvert’s case unfolded. A man involved in racially motivated hate crime was arrested at his own wedding party; one of the highlights of the series was Viv smugly enjoying a cupcake emblazoned with a Swastika before announcing the groom’s arrest to his guests. Busting a clever drug manufacturer, uncovering an underground kidney transplant organisation, and exposing a schoolteacher who manipulated one of her vulnerable pupils all provided ample entertainment.
The storylines wouldn’t have been half as brilliant without the fantastic range of characters bringing them to life. Joy declaring, “Christ, I’ve just used a tampon! I’m not even on!” in a moment of panic; the eccentric forensic expert Miller (Paul Ritter) frequently finding excitement in grim circumstances, and PC Tegan Thompson (Saira Choudhry) bantering with her colleagues created some genuinely hilarious scenes.
No Offence contained all the necessary ingredients of a crime series: dark, unconventional humour, hard-hitting drama, and a nice mix of disturbing and likeable characters. Channel 4 have announced that the show will be returning next year, so re-watching the first season will have to suffice until then.